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NATO condemns ‘unacceptable’ Putin missile threats

NATO on Wednesday condemned as “unacceptable” threats by Russian President Vladimir Putin to deploy new missiles against Western capitals, as a key Cold War arms control treaty crumbles.

The Russian leader struck a combative note in a state of the nation address, warning Washington against deploying new missiles in Europe after the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, saying Moscow would install its own weapons targeting “decision making centres”.

“Russian statements threatening to target Allies are unacceptable. We call on Russia to focus on returning to compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty,” NATO deputy spokesman Piers Cazalet said in a statement.

“NATO is a defensive alliance, which stands ready to defend all members against any threat. We do not want a new arms race, and allies have repeatedly called on Russia to verifiably destroy its intermediate-range missiles.”

The US announced earlier this month it was withdrawing from the INF treaty saying Russia had been in breach of the agreement for several years by deploying a new missile system. Russia, which insists the system complies with the INF, said it would pull out too.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has said several times in recent weeks that the alliance would not deploy any new land-based nuclear weapons in response to the Russian missiles.